Goldsmith calls for a pledge of allegiance, the establishment of a new national holiday to celebrate Britishness, and expanded ceremonies that would take place when new immigrants become British citizens. He also said schoolchildren should have a citizenship ceremony as well.”We are experiencing changes in our society which may have an impact on the bond that we feel we share as citizens,” Goldsmith said in the report. “I propose a range of measures that may help to promote a shared sense of belonging.”
It’s been a long time since I’ve had occasion to say “at least I don’t live there.” Can you imagine having had to attend a compulsory citizenship ceremony when you turned 18? At 18, when you were old enough to be spooked by the kind of off-handed paranoid power the government would have to invoke to make that happen? Being forced to recite the Pledge of Allegiance at 8 years old was bad enough, in hindsight. Blessed hindsight. But there would be nothing “hindsighted” about this; this would be dumped right on your developmental front porch step just as you step out into the world for good.
There is nothing wrong with having a sense of place and community, which is what the British government is trying to foster here. There is only something wrong with the idea that a dictated sense of place and community has any worth. It does not. It took me years to get over the fact that my government made me stand at attention and chant at a flag when I was little. In some ways I’m still not over it.
It’s a funny thing: there is no faster way to persuade someone to hold a particular attitude than to demand he hold its opposite.